Posts tagged with "Mental Health America"

Mina Tocalini illustration for mental health article inside 360 magazine

Five Ways to Improve Emotional Wellness

October is Emotional Wellness Month, making it a great time to put emotional health in the spotlight. According to Mental Health America, 31% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, over 17 million adults have depression, and 7% of the adult population has major depression. Clearly, we need to put a bigger emphasis on emotional wellness, including what it is and how to improve it.

“Emotional health confronts your internal states of being. Emotions being love, anger, joy, and sadness. Emotions can be broken down into secondary and tertiary states,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “Emotions and behaviors go hand in hand, such that our emotions conduct systems: reactions, choices, goals, perception, etc.”

Stress, anxiety, and low self-worth are all emotional aspects of our health which require tending to. Emotional health shows up in positive attitudes, high self-esteem and self-worth, and a healthy body image. Some ways we can tend to and bolster our emotional wellness include: 

  • Learn to identify emotions: Being able to identify emotions happens to be extremely challenging for even the most successful. It is not something we were truly taught to identify and then articulate. Start by simply becoming aware of your own emotional states and patterns. Once you become aware of them you can learn to successfully work through them in a healthy way, and ensure they don’t become overwhelming.  
  • Master coping skills: Coping is a wonderful tool for tending to our emotional health and building resilience. Coping comes in many different shapes and sizes – it’s important for people to build a tool box of effective personal coping mechanisms. This also requires a period of trial and error. Coping can be done through things like meditation, spending time in nature, phoning a friend, doing breathing exercises, or journaling. Once you find one that works, add it to the ethereal tool box and remember to pull it out in times of need. 
  • Get to know you: Work on understanding yourself (aka loving yourself). The more you lean into yourself and show a desire to be curious and compassionate, the greater the likelihood of you shifting into emotional health. We spend a lot of time getting to know others, but very little time getting to know ourselves, and we need to change that.
  • Practice mindfulness: According to Harvard University, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and acceptance. The benefits of practicing mindfulness include decreasing depression, improving emotional reactivity, improves resiliency, and improving healthy coping skills. One of the most effective ways to improve mindfulness is to practice mindfulness meditation.
  • Get physically active: Not only is getting enough physical exercise each week important to your overall health, but it’s beneficial for your emotional wellness, too. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can help to improve depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as improve mood and help you feel better overall. Additionally, exercise helps people feel more confident and releases feel-good endorphins. Aim for getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day on three to five days per week to get the most benefits.

Every day you should spend time on emotional wellness,” added Sandler. “When you do that it will pay off in all areas of your life. Make yourself a priority, stick with it, and see the beauty of the results.”

Sandler has worked with many people to help them identify a plan for personal achievement, take steps to reach goals, and identify areas that need to be worked on. She provides people with meaningful tools that they can use to help bring calm and insight into their life. In addition to working with individuals, she offers luxury impact retreats. 

About Katie Sandler

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins, focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit her site.

Mental Health Awareness illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Mental Health Awareness

Many people, including children and adults across diversity backgrounds, can struggle with social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health. These challenges can be situational, present for a season of life, or be a struggle across a lifetime. The symptoms may also turn on and turn off, be persistent every day, or resolve just to pop back up again.

Even though having complications with mental or behavioral health is common, it does not necessarily mean a person is functioning at their best or the symptoms should be left unaddressed. Early intervention can be more effective, than the choice to put off addressing a mental health concern for another time.

Awareness of mental health signs and symptoms are important. The first step is recognizing when we need support. Let’s set aside labels such as depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, and disorders for a moment. Instead, let’s consider observations. Below is a clustered list of commonly experienced struggles we can lookout for to monitor our mental health:

Socially

  • Noticing a pattern of withdrawing or avoiding friends, family, or activities
  • Having interpersonal conflicts with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, or even strangers
  • Having a difficult time understanding and/or relating to others or common life scenarios
  • Feeling disconnected from others or struggling to get close to others
  • Feeling lost about knowing who you are

Emotionally

  • Experiencing sadness, despair, distress, prolonged sorrow
  • You or others noticing changes in your mood from high to low
  • Enduring excessive worry, fears, or discomfort with the unknown
  • Experiencing extreme guilt, self-blame, or negative self-talk
  • Having bouts with excessive or persistent anger

Cognitive/Thinking

  • Noticing thought patterns that are confused, conflicted, indecisive, repetitive, or forgetful
  • Having a lowered ability begin or maintain focus
  • You or others noticing a disconnect between your thoughts and the world around you
  • Feeling fearful such as paranoia
  • Having repeat unpleasant or worrisome thoughts or images
  • Hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not truly there
  • Thoughts of hurting or killing yourself or someone else

Behavioral

  • Having a reduced ability to cope or resolve daily living complications or stress
  • Struggling with adjustment to life changes
  • Experiencing problems related to alcohol, tobacco, and/or legal or illegal substances
  • Noticing changes in eating habits such as too much, too little, overly focused on eating
  • Observing patterns of overexercise
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Having episodes of violence towards others, yourself, animals, or objects
  • Challenges with impulsive decisions or risk taking

Physical

  • Seeing trends in energy level such as significant tiredness or grand amount of energy
  • Struggles falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up, or low quality of sleep
  • Having physical symptoms such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, heart pounding, shortness of breath, or other unexplained physical symptoms
  • Experiencing medical providers do not take your symptoms seriously enough

Experiencing one or a few of these symptoms at one time may be a part of life based on the amount of lemons life just handed you. However, there may be a mental health concern worth seeking proper care for if you experience one or more of these symptoms for a short or an extended period of time. Due note, some symptoms are more serious than others, such as harm to yourself or someone else, that should not be ignored and need care immediately.

Another element we can use to monitor our mental health is awareness of how our mental health symptoms interact with our daily lives. Sometimes mental health struggles can become disruptive to daily life such as negatively impacting relationships with others, how you think or feel internally about yourself, employment, housing, finances, and/or legal issues. Other symptoms are manageable and do not cause a large disruption; however, beware some symptoms can fly under the radar, but that does not necessarily indicate all is well.

If you are unsure if you are experiencing mental health concerns and would like a better understanding, then consider completing a screener. Mental Health America provides a free, quick, screening tool that provides mental health you can use to make decisions about next steps for care. The results can also be used to start the initial discussion with a mental health provider.

There is hope! In most circumstances, symptoms can be managed, reduced in intensity, and relief increased when working with a mental health provider. There are various forms of care, and you can find the right fit for you such as talk based therapy in-person or online, activity-based therapy, and collaboration with medical providers for mediation as needed.

If you are ready to take the next step, then there are multiple resources available to help you find the right provider. In emergency situations such as thoughts of harming yourself or someone else as well as severe mental illness, then calling 9-1-1, going to a local emergency room, or contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or using live chat on Suicide Prevention Lifeline  may be the best routes.

In non-emergency situations there are options such as contacting a primary care provider for a referral, reaching out to loved ones, connecting to your religious or spiritual community, or finding a professional provider. Below is a list of resources for locating a provider in your area:

Mental health is just like it sounds….health. It can be scary or there can be a stigma to seek out care. However, removing the stigma, overcoming fear, seeking care, and taking steps to improving life takes courage. But you are worth it, and you deserve a better tomorrow.

Michelle Perepiczka, PhD, LPC (CO), LMHC (NY), RPT-S, NCC

Core Faculty

University of Phoenix

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

LGBTQ Illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Opposing Anti-LGBTQ Legislations

Major Health, Education, and Child Welfare Organizations Oppose Anti-LGBTQ State-Based Legislation

 

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular. In too many states, lawmakers are focusing on passing bills that attack our nation’s most vulnerable, instead of focusing on how to help the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signers note: “As organizations committed to serving the best interests of all youth, we are deeply alarmed at the torrent of bills introduced in state legislatures around the country this year that would directly harm transgender people and particularly transgender youth. These appalling proposals would compromise the safety and well-­being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect. All of our nation’s children deserve equal protection and treatment when accessing health care, and when attending school. These anti-­transgender bills promote discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities.”

“While states should be focusing on finding ways to ensure that every young person has a chance to succeed, we are instead seeing a majority of states introducing harmful legislation that excludes, discriminates against, and outright harms transgender youth who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David“Anti-transgender sports bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and just the latest iteration of a years-long losing fight against equality.  In fact, anti-equality legislators when challenged are unable to name any instances of alleged cheating in their states to gain a competitive edge. That is because there are none. The notion is preposterous, nonsensical, and impractical. Other legislation is attempting to deny medically necessary gender-affirming care that helps to mitigate the life-threatening anxiety, depression, and dysphoria that are disproportionately experienced by transgender youth. Amidst an epidemic of fatal violence against transgender people, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to foster a more inclusive, less discriminatory society that guarantees acceptance of and equality to all. I thank every child health and welfare organization for stepping up and speaking out against the anti-transgender legislation that would have a profound effect on our young people.”

As organizations committed to serving the best interests of all youth, we are deeply alarmed at the torrent of bills introduced in state legislatures and in Congress this year that would directly harm transgender people and particularly transgender youth.  These appalling proposals would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.

All of our nation’s young people deserve equal protection and treatment when accessing health care, and when attending school and participating in extracurricular activities, including sports. These anti-transgender bills promote discrimination and do harm to students, their families, and their communities.

Since state legislatures began meeting this year, we have already seen more than 65 bills introduced seeking to deny transgender youths’ access to gender-affirming medical treatment, preventing them from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity, and denying access to sex-segregated spaces that include restrooms and locker rooms. Similar legislation is even being pushed in the U.S. Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, is alarmed by the spate of anti-transgender legislation proposed across the country. We have found that less than a quarter of transgender and gender-expansive youth can definitely be themselves at school and only sixteen percent of transgender and gender-expansive youth feel safe at school. Every child deserves equal access to education, academic success, and a future in which they are empowered to fulfill their true potential, and these laws contravene that fundamental principle, which has long guided our nation’s education policy.

Transgender youth are already at a heightened risk for violence, bullying, and harassment. In addition, students who would be affected by these bills are among our most vulnerable to experiencing depression and engaging in self-harm, including suicide. These bills exacerbate those risks by creating an unwelcoming and hostile environment in places where students should feel the safest and most supported. Research has shown that when transgender youth have access to gender-affirming services, competent care, and affirmation, their risk of depression, anxiety, and other negative mental health outcomes is greatly reduced.

We stand in opposition to proposals that harm transgender youth, including limiting access to medically necessary, best-practice care, forbidding students from using the restroom at school consistent with their gender identity, and preventing transgender youth from playing sports alongside their peers. On behalf of our members and communities, we call on legislators across the country to reject these harmful measures.

Sincerely,

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

American Counseling Association

American School Counselor Association 

Association of Title IX Administrators 

Child Welfare League of America 

Mental Health America

National Association for College Admission Counseling 

National Association of School Psychologists 

National Association of Secondary School Principals  

National Association of Social Workers  

National Education Association 

National PTA